With Virgin America prepared to launch its service from Boston to San Francisco and Los Angeles on Feb. 12, JetBlue announced that it will revive plans for service between Boston and New York to Los Angeles International starting June 17.
JetBlue had planned to launch service out of LAX last summer but pulled back, citing the record high fuel costs. That meant that the closest their customers could get to the city was either Burbank or Long Beach as opposed to Virgin, which offers service out of LAX. The discount carrier, which hasn't decided on fares for the twice-daily service (bet on low introductory ones), will begin selling tickets to LAX Wednesday Feb. 4.
JetBlue also has said that it will revive nonstop service from Boston to San Francisco May 1 on a seasonal basis -- which means through Labor Day -- after discontinuing the service last year.
Sebastian White, a JetBlue spokesman, denied that the moves were in response to Virgin's entrance to the Boston market.
"As you'll remember, when we canceled plans to start up LAX service last summer, fuel was at an all-time high. Fares could simply not support the cost of operations in the market,'' he said in an email. "With fuel prices down and fares slightly up, the timing was right for us to finally make our debut at LAX.''
White, however, admits that the airline sees Virgin as a competitor on the routes they both serve.
David Cush, Virgin chief executive, has said that he sees the airline's main competition as the legacy carriers, not discounters like JetBlue. Cush says his carrier aims to link major business centers, offering travelers top-flight entertainment options, service, and other amenities.
White says of JetBlue, which is no slouch in the area of in-flight entertainment and amenities, "We're committed to making JetBlue even more relevant to Boston travelers, particularly our growing numbers of business customers, by offering flights to their most-requested destinations.''
OK, guys, sounds like competition to me. And even if y'all are focused on business travelers -- as are most carriers, since suits tend to fly more than the rest of us and are more willing and able to pony up high fares for the privilege of flying when and where they need to -- I expect this could signal the beginning of good things for regular travelers in Boston.
One more thing... JetBlue says it will start flying to Montego Bay, Jamaica, May 21. Boston customers will be able to connect to direct flights departing from New York.